[[quoteright:334:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/deathwish_2083.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:334:He wants the filth off the streets. If the police can't do it, he will... his way.]]

->''"People like the idea of revenge. You ever hear the expression 'The best revenge is living well'? It means supposedly the best way to get back at someone is just by being happy and successful in your own life. Sounds nice. Doesn't really work on that Creator/CharlesBronson-kinda level, you know what I mean? Those movies where his whole family just gets wiped out by some street scum. You think you could go up to him, 'Charlie, forget about the .357. What you need is a custom-made suit and a convertible. New carpeting, french doors, a divan! That'll show those punks!'"''
-->-- '''Creator/JerrySeinfeld'''

''Death Wish'' is a 1974 action-crime-drama film based on [[Literature/DeathWish the 1972 novel]] by Brian Garfield (who also wrote ''Film/DeathSentence''). The film was directed by Michael Winner and stars Creator/CharlesBronson (the actor, not [[Film/{{Bronson}} the prisoner]]).

The film was a major commercial success and generated a movie franchise lasting four sequels over a twenty-year period. The film was denounced by critics as advocating vigilantism and unlimited punishment to criminals (and by Garfield - see CreatorBacklash below), but it was seen as echoing a growing mood in the United States as crime rose during [[TheSeventies the 1970s]].

The ''Death Wish'' Pentalogy:

* ''Death Wish'' (1974) - The movie that started it all, where New York architect Paul Kersey has his world shattered forever when his apartment is attacked by three vicious punks, who murder his wife and rape his daughter. After being sent to Arizona by his boss to meet with a client, Kersey takes an interest in guns and eventually has one slipped into his bag by the client as he's preparing to return to New York (this film was made back before things like hijackers and airline security were an issue). Upon his return, Kersey starts dispensing justice to the scum on the streets, shooting down any mugger that tries to rob him. The police want him arrested, but the public are behind him, glad that someone's doing ''something'' to clean up the streets. Kersey is eventually asked to leave New York to avoid prosecution, much like the Old West vigilantes of long ago.
* ''Death Wish II'' (1982) - Paul Kersey and his daughter settle in Los Angeles. After an incident with muggers in an amusement park, brutality hits too close to home again when the muggers attack his new home, and Kersey's poor daughter is raped again along with his housekeeper before both of them are killed. Unlike the last movie, Kersey doesn't target random muggers this time, instead focusing his wrath upon the five scumbags who victimized him and his family.
* ''Death Wish 3'' (1985) - Kersey returns to New York to visit an old buddy from his days in the Korean War, only to find him dead after another attack by gang-punks. He is mistakenly arrested for the murder, but the head cop offers him a deal: reporting any gang activity to him in exchange for being able to kill all the punks he wants. Kersey moves into the buddy's old apartment, where he and his neighbors are viciously attacked by the gang, and things escalate until an all-out urban war erupts in the final fifteen minutes, leading to Creator/CharlesBronson's biggest onscreen kill count ever. It is also the movie that popularized the Wildey Survivor pistol in .475 Wildey Magnum (and saved Wildey from then-imminent bankruptcy in the process).
* ''Death Wish 4: The Crackdown'' (1987) - Kersey returns to Los Angeles. The vigilante is unleashed again after the daughter of Paul Kersey's current girlfriend dies of a crack overdose, and her boyfriend is gunned down by the pusher who sold her the crack. After gunning down the pusher, Kersey is approached by a publisher who knows of the guy's death and wants to hire him to wipe out the drug trade by taking down two drug gangs. Kersey does what he does best and blasts both gangs to hell, but is betrayed by the publisher, who it turns out is actually an ambitious drug dealer under a false identity who is seeking to take over the local drug business and has tricked him into doing the dirty work for him. Kersey's girlfriend is kidnapped by the BigBad's men, and the stage is set for a final showdown.
* ''Death Wish V: The Face of Death'' (1994) - Kersey returns to New York again, this time planning to settle down with a new girlfriend. But the girlfriend is involved in a mob case involving her ex-husband, a vicious mobster against whom the police want her to testify. When the mobster's goons disfigure her in a bid to keep her from testifying, Paul is warned by the cops not to return to his vigilante ways. But things go straight to hell when the girlfriend is gunned down, the mobster is "cleared" of all charges, and the girlfriend's daughter is kidnapped despite Kersey's best efforts to protect her, and Kersey must take the law into his own hands one more time for a final showdown.

For a character ''with'' a death wish, see DeathSeeker.

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!!These movies provide examples of:

* AcidPool: Kersey uses this to finish off Tommy O'Shea in the final kill of the series.
* ActionizedSequel: ''Death Wish 3'' and the actionizing goes even further with ''4'' and ''5''.
* AgonyOfTheFeet: Paul puts a board full of nails on front of his bathroom window for burglars. It doesn't take long before one steps on it.
* AnAssKickingChristmas: The action of ''5'' takes place around Christmastime.
* AttemptedRape: There are some rapists that Paul manages to shoot before they can start anything.
* {{Badass}}: Paul. By the series end he's a BadassGrandpa too.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Paul is a pacifist, but he learned to use guns during his younger years as a combat medic in the Korean War. And it shows.
* BigNo: Freddie Flakes' last words before being blown up and burned to death by a remote controlled soccer ball, controlled by Paul in ''Death Wish V'':
-->'''Paul''': "Hey, Freddie. I'm gonna take care of your dandruff problem for you."
-->'''Freddie''': "Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!" [Paul detonates the soccer ball]
* TheBigRottenApple: the first, third, and fifth films.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler: ''Death Wish 4: The Crackdown'' ends with Paul having killed the bastard who manipulated him into doing his dirty work, but having lost both his girlfriend--again--and her daughter in the bargain. What's especially bad is that despite the dangerous situation, it looks as though his girlfriend might make it, only to be killed off at literally the last minute.]]
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: In ''3'', Paul sets a trap for some gang members using a car as bait. Later, two gang members try to steal it, one of them is black, the other one is white. When they threaten Kersey, the black one gets shot first.
** In ''V'', the first person to die in the film is Reg, a black employee who works for Olivia Regent. [[BigBad Tommy]] [[TheDon O'Shea]] finds out that he talked to the police, he and the Paconi Brothers find Reg and torture him in retaliation. Sal and Chicki burn his hands and his face with a shirt presser. After that, Sal [[KickThemWhileTheyAreDown kicks]] Reg twice before Chicki takes out a gun and kills him by shooting him execution style.
-->'''Chicki Paconi''': [[PreMortemOneLiner "Good night, bitch."]] [Chicki fires his gun]
* CaliforniaDoubling: Although unmentioned in the film's end credits, some of ''Death Wish 3'' was filmed in London rather than New York.
* CartwrightCurse: One of the series' most notorious traits. See DisposableWoman entry below. About the only woman close to Kersey who DOESN'T end up dead is his girlfriend in the second film and even then, she leaves him after finding out that he's a vigilante.
* CatapultNightmare: Kersey wakes from one of these at the beginning of ''4''.
* ConcealmentEqualsCover: Averted in ''2'' and ''3'', with fatal results for those who try it against Kersey.
* DeliciousDistraction: In ''V'', Chicki Paconi has a huge liking for canolis, which unfortunately leads to his downfall, in which he is killed when Kersey sprinkles cyanide all over the canoli that he is eating.
* DirtyCop: Phil Nozaki in ''4'' and FBIAgent Vasquez in ''5''.
* DisneyVillainDeath: Bauggs in ''4''.
* DisposableWoman: Kersey's wife in the first film, his daughter in the second, girlfriends in the third, fourth, and fifth films, numerous non-Kersey women in all films -- basically, if you're female and hang around Paul Kersey, you're pretty much screwed.
** Subverted with his girlfriend in the second film. She still disappears after breaking up with him (after finding out that he's a vigilante), but at least she's alive.
* DrugsAreBad: Drugs play a big part in ''The Crackdown''.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: In ''V'', Sal Paconi is left discouraged and somewhat depressed after his brother Chicki, is killed.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: A car blows up in ''2'' after it falls off from a cliff. Justified because it was the car of a small-time ArmsDealer.
** A more ludicrous example happens in ''3'', when the car Kathryn is in slowly rolls down a hill, hits another car and they're both engulfed by huge explosions.
* FashionShow: ''V'' opens with one.
* FatalFlaw: Similar to {{Delicious Distraction}}, Chicki Paconiís addiction to canolis is what leads to his death at the hands of Paul Kersey.
* GrievousBottleyHarm: In ''V'', Kersey breaks a bottle and uses it to cut Tommy O'Shea's face in retaliation for what one of O'Shea's goons had done to Kersey's girlfriend earlier in the film.
* HandCannon: Paul's friend "Wildey" (more specifically, the .475 Wildey Magnum) from ''3''. Currently the most powerful semiautomatic handgun in the world.
* IWarnedYou: The fake Nathan White's last words after he kills Kersey's girlfriend in ''4'', and just before he himself is killed.
-->'''White''': "I told you...I warned you I'd kill her! I warned you! I'd kill her..." [Paul fires a grenade which obliterates White]
* IronicEcho: In ''V'', when Kersey kills Chicki Paconi by poisoning his canoli, the last words that Chicki hears are the words that he said to Kersey in their first encounter:
-->'''Paul''': "You got a problem?" [Paul pushes Chicki's face onto the table]
* KarmaHoudini: The three muggers and rapists from the first film, who start Kersey's road toward vigilantism, are never caught by the cops or killed by Kersey. In the sequels however, the trope is averted, in which, if you're a bad guy, then you're not leaving the movie alive.
* ManOnFire: Three people burn to death in ''3'' during the climactic urban war between the criminals and the locals.
* MayDecemberRomance: Bronson is 30-something years older than his love interests in films ''3''-''5''.
* MoreDakka: In ''Death Wish 3'' and ''Death Wish 4'', Kersey uses a .30 caliber M1919 and a M16 with an M203 respectively.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: After Paul kills his first man, he is so horrified by what he just did that he runs home and throws up. He quickly becomes more comfortable with killing.
* NewYorkSubway: In the first film, two muggers try to rob Paul on the subway. [[ForegoneConclusion They do not survive]].
* ObstructiveVigilantism: Used by Paul in the second movie, when the cops show up to his house after the break-in.
* OfCorsetsSexy: The fashion show in the fifth film starts with three women wearing corsets and sheer skirt and stockings.
* OneWomanWail: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-yBvYG1_vI The main theme]] for ''Death Wish V: The Face of Death''.
* PhallicWeapon: While at a gun range in Tuscon, Arizona with his client Ames Jainchill, Kersey mentions he was a Conscientious Objector during the Korean War.
-->'''Ames:''' I suppose you're one of those liberals who think [[FreudWasRight our guns are a substitute for our penises]].
-->'''Kersey:''' Maybe it's true.
-->'''Ames:''' Maybe. But this is gun country.
* PopStarComposer: [[Music/LedZeppelin Jimmy Page]] did the score for the second and third films.
* PreMortemOneLiner: ''From Death Wish II'':
-->'''Paul Kersey:''' Do you believe in Jesus?
-->'''Stomper:''' Yes I do.
-->'''Paul Kersey:''' Well, you're gonna meet him.
** And from ''4'':
--->'''Mugger:''' Who the fuck are you?
--->'''Paul Kersey:''' Death.
** And from ''V'':
--->'''Tommy O'Shea:''' Wait, listen. Whatever you want. Whatever you need...
--->'''Paul Kersey:''' I don't need anything. But you...you need a bath.
* PrettyInMink: In ''V'', a thug accosts a woman in a fur coat.
* TheQuincyPunk: Like most Cannon Films, the thugs are primarily punks and all punks are thugs.
* RapeAsDrama: Kersey's daughter was raped and his wife was killed, all for drama and motivation. Also the rape/murder is played for [[GratuitousRape exploitation turn-on]], which makes all of the subsequent action seem more than a bit hypocritical. Paul's daughter is raped again during the second film (along with Kersey's housekeeper) before both are killed, and in the third film, Maria, one of Kersey's friends, is raped and killed despite Kersey's best efforts to protect her.
* RatedMForManly: Especially ''Death Wish 3''.
* Reality Ensues: Only in the first film where the attackers are never seen again. Sadly with that type of crime, and forensics at the time, the only evidence would be the description of a traumatized victim. Modern day audiences likely assume the climax will be a confrontation with the guys who raped his daughter and murdered his wife, but how would he even know who they are?
* {{Retirony}}: In ''Death Wish 3''. [[CartwrightCurse As if her hooking up with Paul isn't bad enough]], by the time Kathryn Davis declares her intent to quit her job as a public defender and move to a new city for a fresh start, it's obvious she's doomed.
** Ditto for Detective Ochoa in ''Death Wish II."
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: When the first movie starts, Kersey is essentially a pacifist until his wife is murdered and his daughter raped into catatonia, then turns violent against criminals. While all five of the films have Kersey seeking vengeance, ''Death Wish II'' is perhaps the one that most resembles this particular trope.
* SequelEscalation: The bodycount per film for the first four films rise as the series progress.
* ShowgirlSkirt: The fashion show in the fifth film starts with some women wearing sheer skirts with their corsets.
* SockItToThem: In the first film Kersey gets $20 worth of rolled quarters, puts them into a sock, practices swinging the flail around in his apartment, and then carries it around during the day. Soon someone with a knife tries to mug him, and a single hit makes the other guy drop the knife and try to run away, go headfirst into a wall, and then stumble off.
* TemptingFate: At the end of ''4'', Kersey's [[CartwrightCurse girlfriend gets killed]], and all the fake [[BigBad Nathan White]] can say is that [[IWarnedYou he warned him that he would do it]]. It was not a smart thing to kill Kersey's girlfriend and then [[TooDumbToLive rub it in his face by saying that he had warned him he would kill her]]. [[LudicrousGibs You can guess what Kersey does next]].
* TooDumbToLive: Similar to {{Tempting Fate}}, the fake Nathan White at the end of ''4'' proves to be this when he kills Kersey's girlfriend, and then fails to do a good job at not getting killed by taunting Kersey by saying that he had [[IWarnedYou warned him]]. [[WhatAnIdiot Rubbing it in]] after killing Kersey's girlfriend definitely was not going to make him put the gun down.
* UnbuiltTrope: The ''Death Wish'' saga pioneered the urban VigilanteMan concept, but it also showed how dangerous it would be.
* UnwittingPawn: Paul becomes one in ''The Crackdown''.
* VigilanteMan: ''Death Wish'' is probably the TropeCodifier for this character type in media. Also an UnbuiltTrope as the film pioneered the urban vigilante concept, but it also showed how dangerous it would be.
** A decade after the film was released, a real life urban vigilante incident took place in New York; the Bernie Goetz case.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In the third movie, Kersey's friend Rodriguez leaves in the middle of a town-wide gunfight to reload his zip gun. He doesn't appear again. He's probably deader than a doornail.
* WretchedHive: New York and Los Angeles.
* YankTheDogsChain: The ending of ''4'', when Paul approaches the fake Nathan White, who is holding Paul's girlfriend. When White shoots at Paul, Paul's girlfriend makes a run for it, and it looks like she'll [[HopeSpot make it]], only for White to shoot her in the back like a coward.
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